This is an issue I haven't had to deal with before.

Hey, look. I'm asking for advice again. Because apparently that's what I do these days.

So my friend Space Cadet and I have been emailing back and forth this summer - it counts for points for the Summer Literacy Challenge, since it's writing. :) Here's what he wrote in a recent email:

i dont know if its true but i have been told that my dad isnt really my dad! i really hope its not true or my whole life would pretty much be a lie!

My response was pretty much....huh? So I replied:

What do you mean, your dad isn't really your dad? When and how did you hear this?

And he said:

my half brother told me about a week ago that when he was coming down from canada with dad that they were talking about how my brother and sister were his kids and that my mother had me with another man and he got custody. very wierd stuff so im like an orphen or somthing lol great

(Don't judge the spelling and grammar - he's very bright, I just don't think he's focused on conventions in this. Anyway.)

I don't really know what to say back. All of this was in conjunction with other stuff, things about what he's doing this summer and books he's reading and the like....but I think this is really important to him because he did bring it up. And honestly, I can't imagine how this could not be important to a fourteen year old who doesn't get along super well with his dad anyway and whose mom died several years ago.

I think he needs to talk to his dad about this and not just take his brother's word for it, because, let's be honest here, kids lie to siblings all the time to make them feel bad. Flip side, if it is true, I think he has a right to know that.

But. Right now, he has no support system around as the family just moved about 30 miles away from where Space Cadet grew up to a small town to move in with dad's girlfriend. He has no friends there, he has no extended family around (though he didn't here either), and he's not in school right now so he doesn't even have any school support like a counselor. And that's a pretty intense thing to learn at any age, let alone as an adolescent - I can't imagine getting through that without anyone to talk to.

So what do I say? Do I recommend he talk to his dad about it right now? Do I recommend he wait till school starts to talk to his dad so that he has a counselor he can access at that point? Do I do something else that I'm not even thinking of right now? Help!

(Image credit to Stefan Baudy)

Happy birthday indeed!

How cool is this?

You KNOW you've reached a kid when he does something like this for you.

And happy birthday, Tracey! :)

(Image credit to Jonathan & Jill)

Too damn young.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with one on my kids. She'd been pulled out of school VERY abruptly a month before the year ended (mom threw her out and she had to move in with dad who lives 20 miles away). She'd been pretty upset about it and we'd emailed semi-regularly. I had some of her work to give her and I wanted to make sure that she was okay, so I took her out to lunch.

We talked about this kid and that kid and her life and her future and various things....she's generally doing okay (though her life is far more chaotic than I'd ever before realized - but she's one of the most solid kids I know and I think she's going to be fine), so that was nice. Then with just a sentence, she made my head explode.

"Hey, you know Pretty Sweet Girl Who Always Has A Boyfriend? She was almost pregnant."

Aaaaah. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. THIS WAS NOT GOOD. "What do you mean, ALMOST pregnant?"

"Well, she was, but then....I guess she, like, lost it or something?"

"A miscarriage?"

"Yeah. So that was really scary - I was really upset when she told me."

Um, yeah. Because 8th graders should not be having sex. I know that's not a realistic thing to say, I know they are having sex, I know hormones make you stop thinking and do things you would never do if you were thinking clearly, I know kids have a tremendous need for acceptance and love and sometimes that's the only way they get it, and I know that abstinence-only education doesn't work for those reasons....but 8TH GRADERS SHOULD NOT BE HAVING SEX.

We'd made it all year with no pregnancies. Guess it couldn't last forever.

(Image credit to Paulina Sergeeva)

Hey there!

Dang. That was lame of me.

I post a big thing about how, like, torn I am and what am I going to doooooooo, and a whole bunch of you comment on it or email me....and nothing. I vanish. For nigh on two weeks. And for that I am sorry.

So let me say thank you to everyone who commented and/or emailed me - I thought long and hard about what you said and I read some more stuff and I thought some more and I decided that this is gonna be what it's gonna be. I'm going to stay anonymous, and I'm going to keep telling stories. Because that's what I do, that's why I do this, and I don't think I can tell the stories I tell if I come out, as it were. And while I could start over with a new blog, I don't really want to do that at this point - I like what I have going here. Maybe someday I will, but for now, that's just way too much work and I'd have to drop this one, and I don't want to do that.

Thus I am back. And no longer whiny (......probably).


I haven't posted in a week.

It's not because it's summer; I have plenty of stories saved up and thoughts ready to discuss.

It's because...well, it's because of my anonymity.

I know. That sounds weird. I guess it's not actually because of my anonymity; it's because I'm tired of it.

Here's the thing. I blog because I love to tell stories, but also because I care about education and its future and how that relates to my students. I care a lot. Like....a LOT. And I want to be part of the national dialogue on all of those things, and share my ideas, and talk to other people about theirs. And.....I don't feel like I can if I'm hiding behind a pseudonym. You know?

But I also don't know if I can write about the stuff that I write about if I'm more public. Or maybe it's not can, but should. Because even though all these things happened to me, they also happened to kids who were anywhere from 11 to 14 years old at the time....and I don't know that it's fair to have this stuff out there about them, even without their names attached.

I don't know if my district has guidelines about these things, but even if they don't, I still need to consider it. That's the responsible thing to do. The adult thing. And if I want to be part of the national dialogue, I damn well better be responsible and adult.

So I don't know where to go from here. Because I want to be more openly public, but I don't want to compromise anything for my students' future.

Do I go back through and delete a bunch of entries? Start over? Just keep blogging anonymously?

I just don't know.

Any thoughts?

(Image credit to Horia Varlan)

I know I'm using way too many exclamation marks, but that's how I feel!!!

Dudes! So exciting! I just heard from my first student who is officially participating in my Summer Literacy Challenge!

She wrote a memoir and will be emailing it to me - I can't wait to read it.

This thing just might happen!

Memorial Day.

I'm a day late for a Memorial Day post, I know. It's a hard holiday to get your head around, I think - or at least that's what some posts seemed to say. Maybe it's just hard for the under 10 crowd. And me.

Let me be clear - I have the utmost respect for the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces. To be willing to give your life for your country? That's a remarkable commitment, and one that should certainly be respected and honored. I just worry that so many of our young people who join the military do so because....well, because they don't have a lot of other options.

I have a bunch of kids who want to join the Army or the Marines because they think it's cool to be a soldier, or because they like the idea of firing guns, or because it's a family tradition, or because they want the money for their education. I'm not sure they think about what they'd actually be fighting for and if they want to potentially give their lives for something they might not actually believe in. I'm not sure we want them to think about what they might have to give their lives for; as Jose points out, we don't spend too much time on it these days.

I want my kids to question the inequities in our society, I want them to push for answers and justice, I want them to see both the wonderful things about America and all our dirty laundry and decide for themselves that this is still how they want to fight for their country, if it is. I don't want them to do it because they're pushed into it by someone else or because they need the money or because they think it'll be like a video game.

On Thursday, Sweet Child o' Mine came by to help me clean and organize my room. We were talking about his future; although he really wants to play for the NFL (of course), he said he'd been thinking about the military as an option. I asked why, and he said it seemed cool and the money for college was good; he said he didn't know much else but his friend's brother had liked it. I said that a lot of great things can come out of military careers and that I'd help him look into it further if he wanted. He said okay. A minute later, he spoke again, his voice softer. "But what if I, like....die?"

That's the rub of it. I'm glad we honor the sacrifices our soldiers have made. I just want to be sure that they're fully aware of what they're committing to when they make that commitment, and that they believe in the choice they make. They deserve that.

(Image by The US Army)
"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
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